5 tips for teaching preschoolers coding before reading

Here's why and how to create a great coding experience for younger students

Early learning experts agree that the five areas of child development are physical, social, emotional, thinking, and language; however, many people disagree on when and how to introduce these concepts to younger learners. To prepare the next generation for a world in which flexible problem solving and the creative use of technology matters more than domain expertise, I’m proposing we teach all preschoolers to code.

Yes, kids should learn to code even before learning to read or write. I’m the son of a high school honors English teacher and the husband of an author, but I have learned that teaching coding and computer science to young kids is crucial to lifelong success.

I’m not arguing that coding and logical thinking are more important than reading. There are very few rewarding life paths that don’t require language literacy and there is no replacement for reading. However, our work with millions of kids on codeSpark Academy, the award-winning computer-science platform I co-founded, has proven that young kids can and should master the basics of coding well before they learn to read.

I’m not the first person to make this argument. Several experts have found that the logic and sequencing skills developed while learning to code enhance reading and math skills. Marina Umaschi Bers, a professor of child development and computer science at Tufts University, has published research studies showing that a simple eight-lesson coding introduction improved young children’s skills on traditional sequencing and reading-comprehension tests.

And consider this example from a 2015 NPR story:
“…before going through a robotics and programming curriculum, when asked to describe the process of brushing their teeth, children gave just three or four steps. Afterwards, they were able to break down the process into 20 or more steps.”

(Next page: How to create the best coding experience for younger children)

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